THE NEW CHIEF HR OFFICER
January 9th, 2019
Over the years, we’ve written a lot about the importance of the employee experience to a company’s success. Finally, the function responsible for delivering on those experiences is now beginning to earn more respect and attention.
Let’s Hear It for Your Chief HR Officer
—The shift to a tech and service focused economy has put a higher premium on having the foremost talent. Yet, despite the importance of attracting, and keeping, the best employees, HR in many companies has remained mired in administrative functions like labor-law compliance and employee benefits.
—Now, we’re beginning to see a change in the qualifications of who companies are choosing to shore up their HR departments. Take Microsoft’s 2014 appointment of Kathleen Hogan as chief people officer and executive vice president for HR. Previously, Hogan had been a developer at Oracle, was a partner at McKinsey & Co., oversaw customer service and support at Microsoft and served as corporate vice president for Microsoft Services.
—“CEOs and CFOs were starting to look at their people strategy and starting to challenge, ‘Where are the people who can execute this?’ And those people weren’t in HR,” says Verity Creedy, Europe sales leader for the global HR consulting firm DDI.
The Must-Have Conversation
Another side effect of HR heads arriving from more diverse backgrounds, and becoming more involved in company strategy, is that the role is shaping up to be a more viable path to the boardroom and CEO functions. A recent example is Tesla’s December appointment of Kathleen Wilson-Thompson, head of HR at Walgreens Boots Alliance, to its board—a decision fueled by revelations of a fraught work culture at the company.
“To be a good business leader, you need to understand HR,” says Dominic Barton, managing partner emeritus of McKinsey & Co. “I hope we’ll see more CEOs coming from the HR function, and we’ll see more line leaders spending time in HR. There has to be a transformation there.”
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